"The main thing that they change when they go from health to disease is that they change their metabolism," said Marvin Whiteley, a professor at University of Texas, Austin.

In other words, a species of bacteria that ate fructose for example can switch to a different kind of sugar to feed on if one is ill.

Bacteria share nutrients and one species will even feed on another as they constantly interact.

"The thing that we found in this paper is sharing, and how their interaction with each other changes quite drastically in disease than it does in health," said Whiteley.

For the study, the researchers used supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).The researchers chose 60 different species of bacteria to represent the total community.

More than 160,000 genes were analyzed, yielding 28 to 85 million reads of RNA snippets, including about 17 million mRNA reads for each sample.

The RNA sample acts like a memory image or 'core dump' to reveal the processes of the as-yet unknown bacterium it came from.

The study appeared in the journal mBio.

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk